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Stopping early

Don’t empty the well too much.

David Gane
David Gane
1 min read

My writing partner Angie and I discussed my 50 words post in our meeting this morning.

She suggested that once a person reached 50 words, they could always keep going if they wanted, but I pushed back against this idea.

I fear that it may lead to someone crashing and burning even harder. Fifty words lead to 100, which could lead to more. It could all be going wonderfully—until it doesn’t.

Her defence was that you could always return to 50, but if this was me, I know it would block me. I’d get used to the more significant number and forget that 50 existed. When it fell apart, my entire process would fail with it.

If it were me, I’d stop at the 50 and take a rest. Walk, do dishes, watch a movie. Then come back to it, fresh and revitalized, ready to take on the next section.

Of course, this is anecdotal, but this idea of stopping early reminds me of Ernest Hemingway:

The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it.

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Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.